Please note that I gave this book 2.5 stars, but rounded up to 3 stars on Goodreads.
This book was over 500 pages of nothing happening besides everyone around one young woman (Fanny Price) trying to convince her that she doesn't know her own mind, that she should be grateful that the neighborhood Lothario has turned his eyes on her, and who can barely walk or talk without feeling freaking faint every five seconds.
The last Jane Austen book that I suffered through was Sense and Sensibility. Thank goodness that I have loved her other books so far. I just realized that I only have two more books to read and I will have read all of her works. I only hope that they are not as boring or soulless as this book.
Fanny Price is the heroine of Mansfield Park. She is the eldest daughter of a poor family consisting of 7 other children. Her mother has two sisters who are well off (Lady Bertram and Mrs. Norris) offer to take her and raise her at Lady Bertram's husband's estate at Mansfield Park. Let's pretty much ignore the fact that the sisters don't offer to send money or aid. They just take the oldest child and spirit her away. Once Fanny arrives a Mansfield, she is treated like the poor relation by her aunt Mrs. Norris and her two female cousins, Julia and Maria. The only person that Fanny feels understands her and wants to see her happy is her older cousin Edmund.
Austen through shows the family through the years, with Fanny also getting visits from her brother William, who is the only person in her immediate family who seems to give two craps about her.
The other characters in this novel either bully, intimidate, or act indifferent to Fanny. And Fanny is shown being some all seeing oracle who can look into people's hearts. Which why I thought it was a misstep at the end for Fanny to be taken in by the Crawfords when she supposedly saw them for who they are or at least that's what people kept saying to her.
When the Crawfords move nearby and the brother and sister (Henry and Mary) start to become more integrated with the Bertram's Fanny despairs over it, because she can see Edmund becoming more and more taken in by Mary.
Have I said that Edmund is kind of stupid and also sanctimonious? Yeah he is. I still don't get what Fanny saw in him.
Henry is what is commonly referred to as a rake, flirting with Julia and Maria and setting the at odds with each other. And then Henry decides he must have Fanny because she has ignored him. Somewhere someone says this means love, I say it shows a narcissist, but what do I know.
Mary is just focused on marrying well, and since she can't have Tom Bertram (eldest brother) she decides to set her sights on Edmund. Apparently Edmund sees that as love. See, still stupid.
And Lady Bertram seems to have no idea what her children are doing...ever.
I also didn't care for Sir Thomas, because he goes off to Antigua for a good part of the story, and returns feeling full of love and need for his family. Until Fanny doesn't realize her good fortune that Henry Crawford wants to marry her, than we spend pages and pages of him berating her to the point of tears. And him scheming by sending her away to see her family, so she can realize that her circumstances can be worse off away from Mansfield Park and Henry. Ugh. I really wish Sir Thomas had died of a heart attack. He was an ass.
There is just a lot of words. I don't know what else to say. I think a few times I wished I had a paperback version so I could just skip to the end. I have never read so much about people walking, how long the walk was (half a mile or mile) how fatigued Fanny was all of the time, and preparations for balls, balls, clothes, rooms, fires, etc. I just needed this book to be over as fast as possible.
It dragged the whole way through up until the end. The flow was all wrong. You would have a scene where something was said, and it was repeated at least a thousand times by several different characters. When the ending comes and everyone is shown for who they are by all parties, the story doesn't pick up a bit. I just kept looking for the words the end.
The setting of Mansfield Park is treated like some castle by Fanny. I didn't get what she saw in the place at all. When she returns home to her family for a visit, Fanny does a lot of comparisons to her home and Mansfield Park and pretty much acts like a jerk in my opinion. She is turned off by her home, her mother, and especially her father. Because they didn't show enough interest in her she was bereft the whole time. Let's forget that Mrs. Norris and her two cousins (Julia and Maria) pretty much ignored or dismissed her, apparently her family was terrible. Bah.
The ending was actually not a happy one in my mind. We have Edmund and Fanny married and as soon as Fanny leaves, she is not missed by Lady Bertram because she is replaced by Fanny's sister Susan. I didn't get some all powerful love from Edmund. He is scarred by realizing that Mary Crawford didn't really care or love him, so he runs back to the person who let's him talk all about himself and decides love. Maria has ruined her life for good and is not going to be allowed back in polite society. And though Julia is married, it's pretty much a marriage she agreed to, to get away from her family. I would definitely read this if you want to read all of Jane Austen's works. But I would not be looking for something as wonderful as Pride and Prejudice or Persuasion.